The initial WPIAL swimming and diving qualifying performance list was posted Monday, and, not surprisingly, among the top performers in the first month or so of the season are Mount Pleasant’s Heather Gardner, Belle Vernon’s Ian Shahan and Elizabeth Forward’s Kaelyn McClain.

Swimmers and divers have about a month to meet the standard to earn a berth into the WPIAL Championships at the University of Pittsburgh’s Trees Pool in the last week of February.

Shahan and Gardner both won two gold medals in last year’s WPIAL Class AA Championships, with both of Shahan’s swims record breaking. McClain won gold and silver.

As he did last year, Shahan is around the top of the list in each event has qualified for in the first month of the season. Shahan won gold in the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly last year, but entered the district meet with the fastest time in five individual events.

Shahan has posted the fastest time in the 100 butterfly, second-fastest in the 50 freestyle and third-fastest in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. He has also hit the qualifying standard in the 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 200 IM.

Gardner successfully defended her WPIAL gold medals in the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke last year, but has yet to post a qualifying time in the freestyle sprint. The senior posted the fastest time in the 200 freestyle, second-fastest in the 100 freestyle and third-fastest in the 100 breaststroke. She has also qualified in the 100 backstroke and 200 IM.

McClain’s early time in the 200 freestyle is second and 500 freestyle third. The junior has also qualified in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 200 IM.

Teammate Haileigh Yurkovich has the early time to beat in the 500 freestyle, and has also qualified in the 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 200 IM. The Lady Warriors’ Marleigh Bennett (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 IM), Ashlee Toth (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly), Natalie Glessner (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 IM), and Maddy McClain (200 freestyle) have also secured an early spot in the district championship.

Laurel Highlands’ junior Maria Mrosko won a couple medals in last year’s championship, and has already qualified a number of events. She has the fastest time in the 100 butterfly in the initial posting and third-fastest in the 200 IM. She has also hit the qualifying standard in the 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke.

Teammate Elizabeth Thomas has set the time to beat in the 100 backstroke, and also has qualified in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 500 freestyle.

LH freshman Ella Ciez (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 IM) and senior Jenna Roscoe (50 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) have already qualified in multiple events.

Mount Pleasant freshmen SaraJo Gardner (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke) and Reegan Brown (200 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 IM) have also qualified in more than one event.

Belle Vernon’s Delaney Patterson (100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 IM) and Ringgold’s Andrea Kassa (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) have secured a return trip to the district meet.

The Mount Pleasant, Laurel Highlands and Elizabeth Forward girls have qualified for all three relays, with the Fillies posting the fastest time in the 200 medley relay.

Mapletown doesn’t field a team, but that hasn’t stopped freshman Ella Menear. She has the second-fastest time to date in the 100 backstroke and sits third in the 100 freestyle.

Frazier’s Alexandra Pohodich qualified in the 100 backstroke in mid-December. Southmoreland’s Joselyn Busato qualified in the 100 butterfly at the same meet. California freshman Anastasia Georgagis has qualified in three events: 100 breastroke, 100 butterfly and 200 IM.

Elizabeth Forward’s Gavin Guern, Ringgold’s Jonnie McDuffie and Laurel Highlands’ Joe Chisler qualified for the Class AA diving championship. Guern won bronze last year, while McDuffie place sixth.

Belle Vernon’s Sam West (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 IM), Cody Danto (200 freestyle), and Nick Staller (100 backstroke) have already posted a time for a trip to Trees Hall. The Leopards have qualified all three relay teams.

Laurel Highlands’ Kole Friel will make a return trip to the WPIAL final after qualifying times in the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 200 IM, while freshman Ian Hamilton has his choice of events after qualifying marks in the 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 200 IM. The Mustangs have qualified in two of the three relays.

Ringgold’s Andrew Noll (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke), Nathan Ferrence (100 butterfly, 200 IM), and the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays have already qualified. Uniontown’s Dalton Grimes (200 freestyle) and C.J. Soltis (100 butterfly, 200 IM) are among the early qualifiers, as are all three of the Red Raiders’ relay teams.

Mount Pleasant’s Zak Koch (200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke) and Daniel Lynch (100 butterfly) qualified on the first posting of times. The Vikings have qualified all three relays.

Southmoreland’s Henry Miller has secured as least a spot in the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, as has Elizabeth Forward’s Aidan Provins in the 100 butterfly.

Connellsville divers Ian Palaisa, Devin Thomas and Morgan Lukaesko have qualified for the Class AAA championship. Albert Gallatin senior Jael Dankle has a secured a return trip to the Class AAA meet in the 500 freestyle after placing fifth last year.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.